Save Space on Jolicloud

October 24, 2009

I’ve been happily running Jolicloud Alpha 2c on my Asus Eee PC 701 for the last couple of months. Along with the Google Chrome Dev Preview¬†browser¬†for Linux, this is without question the best lightweight OS for my netbook’s tiny 4Gb SSD drive.

However, I was dismayed to see my remaining free space steadily dropping from about 1.3 gigs free just after installation, to less than 250 Mb free this morning. I searched online for some tips to retrieve my unused space, but could only find this terminal command to delete cached installation files:

“sudo apt-get clean”

After poking around a little more, I discovered a utility in the Accessories folder called “Disk Usage Analyzer” that was really helpful in figuring out which directories inside my home folder were taking up the most space:
disk_usage_analyzer

This handy utility helped me realize that a bunch of Prism cache files inside my home folder were taking up nearly a gig’s worth of space on my 4Gb SSD (Prism is a minimal web browser used by Jolicloud to create local executables of web-based services). Armed with that information, I was able to delete the cache files. Now my free space is back up to over a gig.

Bye-bye, Comcast

September 21, 2009

Dear Comcast,

Here’s why I am leaving you.

Last Saturday, I started moving from old house to new house. I called Comcast customer service to schedule a transfer of service from old house to new house. I was given a time window of 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. By 5:30 pm on Saturday, after waiting at my new house since 3:00 pm, your local technician/installer had not showed. I called Comcast: “Oh, sorry, he’s a little delayed but will be there shortly.”

Long story short, technician never showed up on Saturday. Called Comcast again: “Oh, sorry, someone from Dispatch will contact you by 7:00 pm to reschedule.”

Nobody from Comcast called me to reschedule. I had to call Comcast early Sunday to reschedule. Spoke to nice rep named Joanne: “Oh, sorry, but we don’t do installs on Sunday. Soonest would be Monday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.”

Me: “No can do, I’ll be at work. My wife can be home by around 3:30 pm.

Joanne: “Okay, I’ll put in a note that even though the time window is 1:00 to 5:00 pm, the tech should come around after 3:30 pm.”

Me: “Thanks.”

Monday, my phone rings at 1:30 pm: “Hello, this Comcast, the technician is at your house waiting for you.”

Me (incredulous): “But I specifically told Comcast yesterday that no one can be at my house until 3:30 pm.”

Rep from local Comcast installer: “Dunno.”

Me: “Fine, I’ll leave work just to meet the tech at my house.”

Local installer: “Okay, the tech says that he will wait for you.”

Me, driving like a madman to meet the tech at my house. Get there, nobody is there. Me, calling local installer’s office: “Your tech isn’t here waiting for me.”

Local installer: “Oh, he just went to get some lunch, he’ll be back in 20-30 minutes.”

Me: “So…you call me, tell me the tech is at my house two hours earlier than he was supposed to be there, I leave work just to meet the tech at my house, whereupon I find that he’s just left my house to grab some lunch.”

Me, furious: “Please write this down in your notes so that Comcast can read them. Comcast, I am done with you. You have screwed up this supposedly simple installation at every step of the way, in every way imaginable. I will have nothing more to do with you. Today, I cancel my Comcast account forever.”

Me, now calling AT&T U-Verse.

And that’s why I’m leaving you, Comcast.

Unhappily yours,
Martin

This is my family’s personal horror story about our ongoing customer service nightmare at the hands of Frigidaire/Electrolux.
On July 24, 2009, our eight-month-old Frigidaire refrigerator unexpectedly broke down and stopped cooling. All it would do was beep continuously. There was no reason for the failure: it simply stopped working.
We called Frigidaire/Electrolux customer service (their call center is located in the Philippines) to report the problem. Little did we know that we would be forced to call them every day, several times a day, for the next month.
The part to fix our refrigerator (the control board) was out of stock, so on or around July 30, 2009, Frigidaire/Electrolux customer service told us that if the part had not arrived by August 4, 2009, our refrigerator would be replaced with a new one. We would have been happy with this resolution, had it in fact taken place as promised. But as we soon discovered, Frigidaire/Electrolux customer service is full of empty promises.
In the meantime, we had lost about $400 worth of food that had been stored in the refrigerator. We threw out most of the food and kept what we could in a couple of coolers. We have been buying 40 pounds of ice practically every day since July 24, to keep the food cold.
On August 7, 2009, we received a copy of a letter from Frigidaire addressed to our local dealer from whom we had bought the refrigerator (Fry’s Electronics), requesting that Fry’s replace our failed refrigerator with a new unit.
That letter was sent from Frigidaire to Fry’s customer relations on August 7, 2009. On that same day, my wife Sandra personally went to Fry’s to ensure that they received the letter and to expedite the replacement of our refrigerator. Then ensued two days of being bounced around between Fry’s and Frigidaire — Fry’s wouldn’t release a replacement until they could verify the letter from Frigidaire, and it seemed that no one from Frigidaire was willing to take ownership of our situation and help us get our replacement faster.
On August 10, 2009 we called Frigidaire’s customer service call center for what seemed like the dozenth time. We were getting frustrated because we didn’t know anymore what to say or how to complain to them that would get our replacement refrigerator into our hands faster. Finally, the call center in the Philippines put us in touch with a higher-up customer service representative in the Frigidaire/Electrolux headquarters in Georgia. This person, Felicia Roseboro, told us she was referring our case to the “replacement department,” to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
On August 13, 2009, Ms.Roseboro told us that they could not find a local dealer in San Jose, CA who would agree to replace our refrigerator. On August 14, 2009, we received a call from a certain Keela Rhodes of Frigidaire informing us that instead of replacing our refrigerator, they would simply ” buy back” our refrigerator for the purchase price minus the tax, delivery and installation charges. She told us to expect a letter from Frigidaire/Electrolux later that day.
At the time of this writing, we have received a copy of said letter. It instructs us to send our own letter of response to Frigidaire/Electrolux agreeing to the buy-back, as well as the original purchase receipt and the refrigerator’s original “serial tag.” Since we are not sure what this “serial tag” is, for the last three days we have been sending email and leaving voicemail with Ms. Rhodes and Ms. Roseboro, asking for a simple clarification of what this serial tag is.
We have not received any response from Frigidaire/Electrolux since August 14, 2009.
Meanwhile, we have been spending extra money on food and ice for our coolers, every day since the eight-month-old refrigerator broke down 26 days ago. In four days, it will have been one month since the refrigerator stopped working.
We feel that no one in Frigidaire/Electrolux is genuinely interested in helping us receive a replacement.
We feel that if we do not call or email Frigidaire/Electrolux on a daily basis, then that company is perfectly content to disregard the hardship and inconvenience that our entire family has suffered, and continues to suffer daily, due to the failure of their eight-month-old refrigerator.
It’s bad enough that the refrigerator failed after only eight months of operation. It’s even worse that Frigidaire/Electrolux do not seem to stand behind their product. The worst part is that they make their customers feel like we don’t matter to them at all.
We just want a working refrigerator. We want Frigidaire/Electrolux to do right by its customers and ensure that this issue is resolved to our satisfaction, After all, it’s not our fault that the product failed. We have already been promised a replacement. How long do we have to wait for that replacement to be given to us?
in conclusion, my advice to you all is to stay away from all Frigidaire and Electrolux products. Let’s refuse to support a company that doesn’t value its customers enough to process a product replacement in a timely manner. Let’s use the vaunted power of the consumer to punish Frigidaire with our wallets.

So the airport antenna on my 5-year-old son’s PowerMac G5 (coincidentally also 5 years old) has been gradually degrading over the past couple of weeks, deteriorating into complete failure this weekend. This isn’t good, because without his Airport antenna, son has no Internet, and without Internet son has no Spongebob Squarepants on his computer, and without Spongebob, he keeps bugging Mom to use her computer, which upsets Mom, which then eventually means that I never hear the end of it.

Rather than spend $30 on a second-hand Airport antenna on eBay, my temporary solution was to set up my son with my Asus EeePC 701 running Jolicloud, connected to an old 17-inch VGA display. Son gets access to internet, Spongebob and other flash games (via Friv), therefore doesn’t bug mom, and everyone’s happy. I would never have thought that my EeePC under previous OSes such as EeeBuntu or CrashBang Linux would have been usable by my five-year-old, but Jolicloud is very accessible.

jolicloud desktop

jolicloud desktop

Jolicloud OS for Netbooks (currently in private alpha) invitation arrived two weeks after I signed up for it.

I was amazed at how well it supports my Asus EeePC 700 out of the box. Normally when I install an alternative OS on my EeePC, I have to tweak the OS extensively post-install to force it to recognize my wireless card, to support onscreen brightness and volume indicators, processor throttling, etc. Jolicloud, however, supports all these things on the EeePC 700 directly after installation; especially impressive considering Jolicloud supports many other Netbooks aside from the EeePC.

Jolicloud is built upon Ubuntu Linux, and as you can see from the image above, its interface resembles Ubuntu Netbook Remix. However, the installed size is smaller than a default Ubuntu installation, taking up just 2.5 gigs of my EeePC’s 4GB SSD. Jolicloud is a stripped-down Ubuntu install, de-emphasizing local applications and skewing heavily toward web-based apps that live in the cloud. So, for instance, Open Office isn’t installed by default; sure, you’re free to install it afterward from Jolicloud, but you can also just as easily choose Zoho or Google Docs. Jolicloud treats local and cloud-based apps equally, blurring any distinction between them. The message seemsto be that with Jolicloud, it really doesn’t matter where your apps reside; what matters is what you can do with them.

I’ve tried many different OSes on my EeePC: the default Xandros Linux (very poor), EeeXubuntu (a custom version 0f Ubuntu 7.10, hasn’t been updated in a while), Eeebuntu (very nice EeePC-specific version of Ubuntu, constantly updated) and CrunchEee (an EeePC-centric version of CrunchBang Linux, a lightweight Ubuntu variant using the Openbox window manager). My previous longtime favorite has been CrunchBang for its simplicity and economy, although the learning curve is rather steep for the average user. Jolicloud beats them all, in my opinion. Even as an alpha release, it is a more complete and seamless experience than anything else I’ve ever run on my EeePC.

Netbooks pre-installed with Linux reportedly suffer four times higher return rates than Windows XP. Jolicloud has the potential to reverse that trend because of some key innovations. First, it makes browsing for, adding, and removing apps drop-dead easy, thanks to the Jolicloud “My Applications.” This is a big ease-of-use improvement over Ubuntu’s Synaptic Package Manager, which can be a barrier to non-technical users.

Second, Jolicloud integrates very nicely and easily with the social web. It’s the first Netbook OS that rivals my iPhone in casual easy browsing of Facebook or posting Twitter status updates.

Third, it just works, as I explained earlier with its out-of-box support for all of my EeePC’s esoteric hardware and features. It runs all web apps full-screen in Prism, a simple browser without the normal browser interface.

Overall, Jolicloud is impressively polished for an alpha release. I can’t wait for future releases.

love + hate = netbook

August 10, 2009

I have an on-again, off-again relationship with my netbook, an Asus EeePC 701 I bought two years ago, at the very dawn of the netbook era. In retrospect I should have waited before buying, because now I’m stuck with a netbook that’s too small, its keyboard too cramped, storage too tiny (non-upgradeable 4GB SSD) in comparison to today’s netbook offerings.

My Eee PC spends most of its time sitting on my desk, unused. I’ll dust it off every few months, when a new version of EeeBuntu or CrunchEee is released, to test the latest in EeePC-optimized distros (CrunchEee is my favorite), but mostly the thing sits idle.

Blogwriter Test Post

January 2, 2009

This is a test post from my iPhone to my blog via Blogwriter Lite. One of the reasons why I haven’t blogged as much lately is because it’s just too inconvenient to fire up the portable when I’m home. I use computers at work all day long; the last thing I want to do when I get home is mess around with computers some more. This might be a good compromise solution. Also, I’m getting pretty fast at typing blog posts on the iPhone. The auto-correct feature is very slick and helpful, once you’ve gotten used to it.

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